The Google search engine has, in a short time, become one of the most popular search engines on the Internet. Such is its popularity that several enterprising individuals have created games that can be played on, or with, Google. The nature of some of these games is that before the advent of Google they simply could not exist: they are the product of Internet culture, and the twisted minds that inhabit it. This is not to say that Google itself is devoid of a certain amount of fun. Try searching for 'the answer to life, the universe and everything', for example.
The Google front page can be displayed in various languages. While this is no doubt a valuable and useful service, you may find yourself doubting the worth of reading the page in Elmer Fudd's somewhat odd pronunciation, or Hacker-speak for that matter. Oh, and how about Klingon? Anyone?
I'm Feeling Lucky
Another interesting feature of Google is the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button. Clicking on this will take you directly to the first result found for your search. The phrases 'French Military Victories' and 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' both yield amusing results if you're feeling lucky.
Most intriguing though is the word 'elgoog'. It doesn't take much work to realise that this is just 'google' backwards. If you type it in to Google and hit the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button, then the site you will arrive at is just that - Google backwards. A complete mirror image of the Google site front page, and it is actually a working search engine itself. But bear in mind that if you want to get any meaningful results from it you will have to type in your search criteria backwards! To end your elgooG experience, type in 'elgoog' and hit the 'ykcuL gnileeF m'I' button, and you will be painlessly returned to Google.
Type two words into Google and search for them. If your search returns one, and only one, page then that page is a googlewhack. The two words need not be related. In fact, the less related the words are the more likely they are to result in a googlewhack. For example, the words 'pahoehoe' and 'curmudgeon' may result in a googlewhack when put together. However, if they did, they now don't, as they now appear on this page as well1.
Dave Gorman was told that his site contains a googlewhack. Discovering this started him off on other of his famous journeys. He aimed to create a chain of ten googlewhacks, visiting the people that created the sites on which each googlewhack is found, and getting them to find another googlewhack for him. The plan was do to all this before he turned thirty as, to his mind, he would then have to turn sensible and stop doing all this silly stuff. His adventures became the subject of his 2003 Edinburgh Festival stage show, and his book Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure.
As Google also has a facility that allows you to search images, it is possible to googlewhack these as well. But be careful, as there are some very, very strange pictures out there!
Though googlefight could be played direct on Google, there is a googlefight website that makes the game easier. The idea is that you pick two separate words or phrases and see which one brings up the larger amount of search results from Google. The word or phrase with the bigger number of results wins the fight.
The googlefight website allows you to enter both words or phrases at the same time, compares the results, and declares the winner. Some googlefights can give interesting results: try 'Luke Skywalker' versus 'Darth Vader', 'Tony Blair' versus 'Michael Howard', or 'The People' versus 'Larry Flint'. Unsurprisingly, 'Kramer' versus 'Kramer' results in a draw.
Not exactly a game, but interesting nonetheless, is the practice of Google bombing. This only works because of the way that Google works. Google ranks sites partly according to the number of other sites that link to it in the same way. So, if you get a lot of people to link to your site using the same words, or set up multiple sites yourself in order to link to your main site, then your site will be near the top of the list when someone searches for those words on Google. Half the trick is picking the right words to use in the link - you want words that are obscure enough so that it will be easy to top the list, but not so obscure that no one will search for them. The first recorded instance of a Google bombing is based around the words 'internet rockstar'.
While it is a completely separate website to Google, Googlism searches through Google to find out what it 'thinks'. Input a few words (the names of work colleagues, for example) into Googlism, and it will find out what Google (or more precisely the pages linked to through Google) say about them. It can be highly amusing at times, and at other times is just inane.